The Sunday Mail
PROFESSOR James Hakim (pictured left) was an accomplished academic, physician and researcher with strong national, regional and international credentials.
He joined the University of Zimbabwe in 1992 as a lecturer and rose through the ranks to the position of Professor of Medicine, and was a former chairperson of the Department of Medicine.
He was the current Professorial chair of the department of medicine, which is the highest academic achievement at the University of Zimbabwe.
Born in South Sudan, he became a naturalised Zimbabwean.
He qualified as a medical doctor at Makerere University, Uganda, and pursued post-graduate specialist studies in Kenya, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and South Africa.
James was a renowned specialist in internal medicine and cardiology, as well as an excellent teacher, who provided mentorship and support to large numbers of doctors who trained at the University of Zimbabwe.
He also played a critical role in regional training of doctors.
He served as external examiner at medical schools in several countries in the region.
He was a member of faculty of the East Central and Southern Africa College of Physicians (ECSACOP), as well as a member of its quality assurance organ, The Academy of Educators.
James was involved in seminal research in HIV, tuberculosis, cardiology and several other national priority disease areas.
Some of his ground-breaking research helped shape treatment guidelines, especially in HIV.
He trained numerous researchers at both Masters and PHD levels at the University of Zimbabwe.
James was the principal investigator who successfully secured substantial grants from the National Institutes of Health and Fogarty (USA) such as the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI).
Over a period of 15 years, this programme was instrumental in improving the quality of medical training, postgraduate activity and research capacity at the University of Zimbabwe. Under his leadership, the MEPI programme helped to stem several years of brain drain by improving recruitment and retention of lecturers.
James was a prolific researcher.
He published more than 200 articles in refereed journals and books.
He received numerous awards for his academic work, including the Zimbabwe Medical Association Award (ZIMA), an honorary Doctor of Science from University College London, the Ward Cates Spirit Award from the NIH HIV Prevention Trials Network and a Merit Award from the Society of AIDS in Africa.
Professor Hakim delivered invited plenary talks at the World AIDS Conference in Vienna; the NGali-Mann lecture at the prestigious Conference of Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections; the Hajar-al-Hajar Binali International Cardiology fellowship Lecture at the University of Denver, Colorado; the Conference of Physicians of East, Central and Southern Africa and the National Association of Physicians of Zimbabwe.
He chaired the scientific committee of the highly successful ICASA Conference held in Zimbabwe in 2015.
He was also instrumental in attracting several conferences to Zimbabwe, including the HIV INTEREST Conference, the Medical Education Partnership Conference and the International AIDS Society Educational Conference.
James was a family man, a husband and father, and also a great friend and mentor to many within and outside of the medical profession.
Professor Hakim passed on January 26, 2021.
His untimely death has robbed us of a pillar of strength and wisdom.
He touched so many lives
and despite his experience, global recognition as an academic and researcher, he remained very
humble and availed himself for any task in furtherance of the health agenda.
He will be remembered for his dedication to duty, academic excellence and professional integrity.
He is survived by his wife Phoebe and four sons — Eric, Neil, Frank and Colin.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this difficult time.
◆ National Physicians Association of Zimbabwe (NAPAZ).